Many Americans have type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes. In fact, even though many have not been diagnosed, one in four adults aged 65 or older have diabetes and nearly 50% have pre diabetes. A lot of people don’t realise this but what they eat, matters and although healthcare providers use blood sugar levels to diagnose diabetes, problems associated with type 2 diabetes extend well beyond blood sugar.
For this reason, dietary treatment must address these other concerns as well. Blood sugar levels rise because muscle, fat, and liver cells become resistant to insulin (the hormone that ushers blood sugar into body cells) and ignore insulin’s signals.
Helping your body become more sensitive to insulin can help you with blood sugar management and reduce your risks for other problems associated with insulin resistance and diabetes. Here are some tips on how to do this:
1. Balance your diet. A health-boosting diet includes a variety of food groups and accounts for protein, carbohydrates and fats. Make sure your diet is balanced and your incorporate all foods in it within moderation.
2. Cut the Calories. If you’re overweight and you would benefit from losing weight, aim to lose a few pounds. You don’t need to drop lots of weight to see better blood sugar control and better health overall. Research shows that losing as little as 5% of your starting weight — only 10 pounds for someone weighing 200 pounds — can lessen insulin resistance. This will also improve blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. There are many ways to cut your calorie intake. Consider shrinking portions; decreasing sweets, sugary drinks and alcohol; swapping whole milk and whole milk dairy for low-fat varieties, avoiding fried and fatty foods, and adding more low-calorie vegetables to your plate.
3. Sub the Salt. Too much salt is bad for blood pressure, so compare food labels to choose lower sodium options. At home, use the saltshaker sparingly. Instead rely more on herbs, spices and a squeeze of fresh citrus fruits.
4. Bad Fats For Good Fats. Saturated fats raise your risk of heart disease. Avoid trans fats by saying no to anything containing partially hydrogenated oils. To cut back on saturated fats, avoid the foods most likely to contain them, including whole milk dairy products, butter, coconut, coconut oil, fatty cuts of meat, poultry skin, bacon and sausages.
5. Find the Fish. The fats found in fish are a blessing to the heart. Eat this kind of fats and get your source of omega-3 from salmon, herring, sardines, rainbow trout, tuna, walnuts, ground flaxseed, chia seeds, canola oil and soybean oil.
6. Vegetables First. These low-calorie, low-carbohydrate nutritional stars should fill your plate and your belly. Not only are they good for your blood sugar, they are loaded with health-boosting, disease-fighting phytonutrients. Aim to eat one or more servings at most meals and snacks. Some examples include asparagus, beetroot, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, lettuce, radishes, spinach and tomatoes.
7. Choose Carbohydrates. While it is true that carbohydrates turn into blood sugar, it’s not true that all carbohydrate-rich foods are similar in nutrition and in their ability to fight disease. Select carb-rich foods with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving, and to regularly eat fruits, whole grains, legumes, such as black beans and lentils, and starchy vegetables like peas. Go easy on refined grains, snack bars, desserts, pretzels and chips.
8. Spread it Out. The jump in blood sugar levels is related to the amount of carbohydrates you consume each time you eat. Instead of eating large amounts of carbohydrates once or twice daily, you’ll get better blood sugar control by spreading your carb intake out fairly evenly over three or more meals.
Making these changes will help level your blood sugar and be sure to make you feel better!